Chymera – Death by Misadventure – English Version

10 נוב

Sincerity is a quality highly valued when found among our friends and colleagues, yet it is a quality rarely used in music reviews. In such reviews we usually use words that technically analyze the music's quality as it is conceived by our personal taste in music; we also note just how much the music fits or doesn't fit the current musical fashion and point parts that we liked the most as well as parts we disliked. When writing about an artist's album another need arises – to find the connecting line between the music and its creator. Analyzing an album without such personal context is lacking to say the least. When I decided to write a review of Chymera's new album I found both line and personal context in the word 'sincerity'.

To be completely honest I found another context before 'sincerity' – death itself. Chymera's 2005 debut album was called "Everybody Dies…Even Horses". I decided to check the concept behind the album's name before diving into the music, so I asked Brendan how the so-morbid name found its way to the album's cover. "Not really any story. Took me ages to come up with the title. I wanted something slightly quirky. I read a newspaper report about someone who drowned while drunk and the cause of death was 'Death by Misadventure'. It sounded right for the album too. I don't want to die particularly and neither do I have a fascination with death". With two of his 2010 releases named 'Ghosts' and 'Rumours of my demise' one can argue about his statement, but it's to write about his album. This is also the time to recall the word 'sincerity'.

It is said that in order to properly value something it needs to be paid for. Brendan Gregoriy paid for his latest album in numerous headaches and 18 months of hard work. Unlike most electronic albums where you can only find the customary shopping list of thanks, Brendan chooses a path of sincerity and shares the personal story behind the album-making process with the listeners, spread on an A4-sized chrome paper, nicely folded inside the front cover. When an artist picks such a path he or she usually create an emotional bond with the listener, which gives extra colors and flavors to the albums. This album is no exception.

A sample of all the album's tracks

 

The album begins with 'The Drop', which just like the beginning of a book politely asks for our attention using a dramatic piano and a pleasant sunrise sensation. This beginning doesn't try to create a full-blown spectacle but to calm and relax. Next comes 'Drowning' which may or may not relate to the album's name, but definitely deepens the sensation embedded by its predecessor with vocal atmospheric effects, slowly sinking the listener into a mellow and emotional cloud. It's only during the third track, 'Fathoms', when a delicate yet decisive beat gets into action and simply makes the head and knees move autonomously. 'Simplicity' is another word that can hep describe the music in the album. Brendan's electronic rhythms seem to be born as they are hummed inside his head, as opposed to rhythms born out of some random sampler. Chymera doesn't bother making music that makes the listener feel overwhelmed but rather makes simple and addictive music that takes no time at all to attach itself to the soul and take it for a field trip. A splendid example of such music can be found in the album's fourth track 'An Island In Space' which is built on a healthy baseline and how surprisingly – a piano. I found this so-simple rhythm just as addictive as any substance I've ever…hmm…read about.

The album first slips in the fifth track 'Who Bends First', where the refined Electronica is drowned in a poorly mastered barrage of percussion which lacks any delicacy and which made it hard for me to listen to the track from beginning to end. Luckily this is amended almost immediately in the next track 'Trapped In Amber' where we get a classic Chymera moment; one that has his signature sounds as well as the first vocals in the album, which pour a massive energy surge into the track and the entire album. This surge is still felt in next tracks 'My Karass' and 'The Chase' which almost completely abandons the percussion and relies on atmosphere and female vocals. The album has a limited amount of vocal tracks which aroused my curiosity. I asked Brendan how he selected the vocalists (and if they were his selection at all) and how their role in the album was dictated. "Yes I picked the vocalists. Emilie is a friend of mine. We used to live in Barcelona at the same time and we had been trying to do a collaboration together for ages. When I had the instrumental for 'The Chase' ready, I sent it over to her and she had lyrics and vocals within 2 or 3 days. I used the first take as it was the best, even though it was recorded on her laptop's built in mic with a tropical rainstorm raging in the background (she lives in Thailand now). I didn't have to make any changes with her vocal or direct her in any way, it was 100% her own vocal arrangement. The label was putting pressure on me to find other vocalists as they wanted at least two more vocal tracks on the album, they sent me some suggestions but I wasn't happy with any of them. Finally a week before the album was due to be mastered, I heard two singers in a bar here in Berlin, got their contacts and had them over to the studio a few days after that. It was really quick and rushed but I'm happy with how it all turned out. With their vocals it was a little different. They were singing live in the studio with me and had some ideas of their own. I just took a lot of takes of various different ideas from them and then afterwards patched and layered them together in the way that I thought fitted best".

The ninth track in the album seemed to me a bit like something dictated by the label (although I could very well be wrong), as it is not only the most club-oriented track in the album but is also the first single released from it. 'Strange Things Are Afoot' is a great for-the-floor treat; however when it's placed before and after its neighbors in the album it feels a bit as if there was an unsuccessful attempt to force a foreign musical dimension into the album, which doesn't necessarily fit. The vinyl single is excellent and contains the original version and two great remixes by Conforce and Claro Intelecto but for some reason doesn't feel like a part of the story Brendan meant to tell in this specific album.

'Strange Things Are Afoot' sample (original + remixes)

'The Aloof' found in the tenth spot shoots the listener directly and without a moment's hesitation right into Brendan's highly atmospheric and dramatic comfort zone which only emphasizes just how much the previous track doesn't belong. Touching pads, thrilling keyboard notes, a refined rhythm and a baseline which penetrates the narrowest of cracks in the brain make this track one of the most special in the entire album, even though it's so simple in many ways and perhaps because it is. The album's closing track 'Swim Away' closes circles, sends arrows and connects the dots found in the album, by combining the ambiance found in its beginning, small vocal spices, an addictive electronic rhythm but also a short and coordinated percussive attack, which again takes over the rest of the sounds as it did in 'Who Bends First'. The use of percussion may be the only sound-wise flaw in this album, in my opinion, but one that shows its face for just about a track so it hardly leaves a dent in the splendid outcome.

The album isn't perfect but then again Brendan Gregoriy never claimed he is. The prosecutors will claim his music has a simple structure and his use of keyboard and atmosphere as an emotion provoker can easily be anticipated, but their claims will be as lame as complaining that quality dark chocolate (the kind that provides us with tears of joy when eating it) is simple, brown and doesn't have too many ingredients. Brendan's true strength as an artist and as a person is the same sincerity mentioned in the first sentence. Chymera produces music from the bottom of his heart and soul and then passes it to the listeners with very little filtering and changes. He doesn't try to imitate any of the more "fashionable" artists and remains loyal to his sound as well as to himself. The intense emotions invested in this album can almost be seen oozing out from it while listening to it – slowly as if they were a spring. I strongly recommend investing some money in a copy (it can be purchased on CD in stores such as Juno and also digitally in Beatport). 'Death By Misadventure' is not an electronic album to be considered by sharp and cynical critics as a masterpiece for future generations but an electronic piece that will attach itself to your soul and will excite you today, tomorrow, in the coming year…and at least until Brendan Gregoriy will take another step in his musical journey and give the world another album.  

And while we're talking about next albums we asked Brendan how long he believes it will take him to make another one and if he expects the next album to be easier to make. "I would like to do a new album either by the end of next year or in 2014. I think 2 years is a good gap between albums. I do know that the next one will be quite different, I think so anyway. The music I have been making lately has been a mixed bag. Some dancefloor stuff for my live sets along with some ambient things and some deep excursions into proper synthesis. Whether any of them will see the light of day or not, it's too early to tell. I hope that the next one will be easier for sure. This one wasn't really a walk in the park all the time. One thing I am going to do however this time around, is make sure the album is 100% finished before finding a label for it. It was the other way around for this one and it just added to my stress when making the album". We all wish him good luck.

~ Guy ~

For those of you who don't know Chymera and for those who do and just wants another taste, we've gathered some diverse music. Enjoy.

Chymera's 10th PodIUmix (our podcast series) which is a masterpiece and a real ear candy

 Chymera's Dj set from Berlin's Voyage Voyage nights @ Wild Renateg

A Chymera live set from August

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